It comes a time in every online poker player’s life when he starts thinking about going live. Perhaps it is the need for a real challenge, maybe he wants to try out something new or perhaps the player simply wants to check out if the rumors on live poker are true.
I’m going to be direct: all those rumors about live poker ARE true; the game is actually much juicier and a lot more interesting. However, mind you that live poker also presents several subtleties that you need to adjust to. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy the earnings and victories that you are used to in online poker. Let’s elaborate!
Painfully slow games
The first thing that hit me in my first live poker game was the slow motion playing style. In short, while online I’m usually playing around 100 hands per hours, in live poker I consider myself lucky if I get to play a third of that number. Moreover, in online poker I could have moved from table to table, whereas in live poker I was forced to stay at one table, obviously due to the slow games.
The fewer hands played is also caused by the frequency of folding. However, don’t forget that you have all your opponents at the table and therefore, you should use this time wisely and start observing the other players. If you can stay sharp and spot patterns in the style of the opponents, then you can really get ahead by breaking their playing style.
More loose-passive games
Another thing that will awe you in live poker is the overall passivity of the games. Having a top pair (let’s say AK) in online poker usually means that you can call shoved, irrespective of your position at the table pre-flop. On the other hand, in live poker the top pairs are common and calling shoves with AA or KK pairs will usually get you killed. In addition, as far as I could notice, light three-betting is very rare and players will always raise for value.
Things get even worse post-flop, when you get the sensation that players are afraid to raise and will simply call, hoping they hit. The passive betting even goes to such extents, where players typically prefer to skip big pots or miss river bet values in favor of safety and slow paced play.
We all know that in online poker a good table is one that includes a full-stacked fish. Overall, in live poker, the tables are significantly softer and don’t be surprised if you sit at a table with two fish, two good players and two casual players. I must confess that the predictability of the regular and fish player is hard to miss, in the sense that if they raise, you can be certain they got a top pair or the nuts. Basically, if these people were to play online poker, they would surely be eaten alive. So, from this point of view, the games are pretty much straightforward.
How do you spot a fish at your table in online poker? Simple – notice the player that limps a lot pre-flop. Well, in live poker things are completely different, meaning that everyone limps, A LOT. Some professionals claim that the pre-flop limping is caused by the inexplicable curiosity of the players to see the flop. This being the case, I recommend you don’ t waste your time trying to keep track of limping players, since you will most likely find yourself taking four or five-way flops constantly.
Other factors to account for
There are two other notable differences I can think of regarding live poker: the pots and the deep-stack play style. Unlike online poker, live pots are usually two or three handed and the more players at the table, the better chances of getting a real hand.
In regards to the deep-stack playing, it suffices to say that you should expect to be in 200bb deep or more, very often: with the 100bb stack, you will barely make it to the flop, whereas the 300bb stack is non-profitable. And, if you decide to call on the turn or later on, the bets are incredibly high.
Hello, I’m Chad and I usually play online poker at http://www.pokerstars.co.uk if I am not out at the live poker tables in Las Vegas!
Photo credits: Play Among Friends